Ontario | Sustainability | Sustainability

New Ontario regulation for battery recycling

February 28, 2020

Minister Yurek and the Government of Ontario moved battery recycling to the Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA) for oversight and management. Under this new, Individual Producer Responsibility (IPR) recycling regulation, brand holders or the first importers of batteries are now required to take on the full cost to recycle their goods and must meet annual recycling targets.

Currently, the cost of end-of-life recycling can add up to 10% of the total before tax costs to a product. This has seen retailers in Canada lose sales to out-of-province online retailers who can offer lower prices that do not include recycling charges.

RCC is confident the resulting reduction in red tape will allow business to both effectively achieve Ontario’s ambitious recycling objectives while lowering the cost of the price of batteries for their customers.

Highlights:

  • New Volunteer Producer contracts allow the first importers to contract all recycling obligations to out-of-Canada brand holders;
  • Embedded Batteries are scoped-out entirely of the Batteries Regulation, to be included in a later regulation – the Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) regulation;
  • A Canadian first for batteries; there is a De Minimis threshold (a line, below which volume is not counted) in the new Ontario Regulation. For rechargeable batteries, 1.5 tonnes, for single-use “primary” batteries, 2.5 tonnes, and;

For many members, today’s Batteries Regulation will be their first under the Ontario’s new IPR model. While formal responsibility cannot be contracted away under this individual producer focused model, services for reporting and recycling can be outsourced. Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) can be retained for these services. Often, this can be one of the most cost-effective approach to covering off your individual obligation.

For members electing to use the Volunteer Producer contracts – registration will still be required with RPRA. RCC also would encourage members to refer out-of-country brand holders with whom they are contracting with to a PRO, to maximize the chances that those brand holders cover off their obligation.

Members can find detailed information on how to meet their obligations under the Batteries Regulation on RPRA’s website.

If this is your first time dealing with Ontario’s IPR framework, members are encouraged to email Sebastian Prins or phone 1-416-467-3759.

Summary Table – Producer Obligations in Brief:

Requirements by year July 1st, 2020 to Dec 31st, 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
Single-Use “Primary” Battery Targets Best Effort Best Effort 40%
of battery weight supplied to Ontario
45%
of battery weight supplied to Ontario
50%
of battery weight supplied to Ontario
Rechargeable Battery Targets Best Effort Best Effort 40%
of battery weight supplied to Ontario
45%
of battery weight supplied to Ontario
50%
of battery weight supplied to Ontario
Promotion & Education Reasonable Effort Reasonable Effort Reasonable Effort No Obligation No Obligation
Single-Use “Primary” Battery
De Minimis
2.5 Tonnes
No obligation to report if annual tonnage is equal to or less.
(this amount, calculated separately from rechargeable batteries)
Rechargeable Battery
De Minimis
1.5 Tonnes
No obligation to report if annual tonnage is equal to or less.
(this amount, calculated separately from primary batteries)
Reporting General Reporting – Once, annually, though if you retain a Producer Responsibility Organizations (PRO) they may want more frequent reporting. PRO can cover this obligation off and enter data directly with RPRA.
On Supply Data – verification required annually. PRO can cover this obligation off.
On Audits – Once every three years. PRO can cover this obligation off.
Visible Fees Allowed – regulation is silent, so there are no restrictions/requirements on display
Note: never call this a ‘tax’; all Environmental Handling Fees are ‘fees’

Detailed Information:

Designated Batteries

The new regulation will cover single-use “Primary” Batteries and Rechargeable Batteries that are five kilograms or less effective July 1, 2020. Embedded batteries (e.g. a battery, included as part of another product – like a computer, or flashlight packaging that includes a battery inside of the packaging) have been scoped out of this regulation. The Government has suggested that they will be included in some fashion in the EEE regulation, which is anticipated for later this year – that said, any embedded battery requirements under the EEE regulation are likely to focus on electronics (e.g. computers) and other embedded batteries (e.g. in musical cards, in toys, etc.). Automotive batteries and button cells in products (ex. Hearing aids, key fobs, etc.) have also been scoped out.

Responsible Person/Party

The regulation includes a hierarchy to determine the responsible Person or Party. If the brand holder is a resident in Canada, they are responsible. If not, the first importer (if resident in Ontario) is responsible. If neither applies, the responsibility falls to the Ontario resident who first marketed the batteries or the person outside of Ontario who marketed the batteries.

There is also a De Minimis threshold, which could allow some retailers to be scoped out entirely. With respect to Rechargeable Batteries, producers are exempt if their management requirement is not more than one and one-quarter tonnes. Similarly, Primary Battery producers are exempt if their management requirement is not more than two and one-half tonnes. This is a “big win” for RCC members as it will help protect small business interests.

Another “big win” for members is that there is a Volunteer Producer Obligation which allows out-of-country brand holders to take on the obligation of first importers. This can be done through a written agreement between a Volunteer Organization and a Producer.

Obligations

The Person/Party and/or their Program is obligated for collection, management, promotion and education, registration, reporting, and auditing. The Party may choose to participate in a Stewardship program or not. Ultimately, the obligated Party, not the Program, is responsible for all obligations.

Collection Requirements

All Retailers with an obligation, or who need to register a Volunteer Agreement with an out-of-country brand holder will need to register with RPRA. For both Rechargeable Batteries and Primary Batteries, members will need to register by July 1st.

All targets include a year and a half of ‘best effort’, before moving to 40% (2022), 45% (2023) and 50% (2024) targets. On or before April 30, 2021, the obligated Party must submit a report to the Authority, which includes information on the location and services of collection sites. Accessibility requirements are determined by population size but there are options in terms of collection program design, including curbside programs. If products include post-consumer recycled content, collection targets are reduced. Ultimately, the Party is responsible for meeting all collection targets.

Additional Management Requirements

The Party must have a verification process that will determine the amount of batteries supplied in Ontario. The Party must manage all material they collect and send to a registered processor or refurbisher.

For producers contracting with a PRO – keep in mind that your PRO can be your verification process. Ask your PRO if they can cover off this obligation for you when contracting.

Promotion and Education

The obligated Person/Party is required to make ‘reasonable efforts’ to raise public awareness and participation between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2022. Following this, there is no requirement for a promotion and education program.

Compliance and Reporting

Overall, auditing and reporting requirements are much more streamlined which will greatly benefit members. The obligated Party will have to register with RPRA but auditing can be conducted by a registered Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) on behalf of the Party. Auditing will occur once every three years for the preceding three-year period so every year’s activities are still being audited but it will be completed all at once. Programs, haulers, collection sites, processors and refurbishers must also register with the Authority, keep records and submit reports to the Authority.

Funding

Visible fees are allowed.

Next Steps

What is particularly encouraging is that today’s announcement is likely to be the blueprint model for other new programs such as electronics, hazardous waste and paper & product packaging.

RCC will be developing web content to identify registered PROs and continue to support members through this transition. Moving forward, we will continue to notify members of any updates.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact: Sebastian Prins, Director, Government Relations (Ontario) at: sprins@retailcouncil.org or 1-416-467-3759

Be heard. Save money. Stay informed.

Become a member